| Alaska is the setting for another heartbreaking survival story revolving around the plight of three California gray whales in October of 1988. This film adaptation directed by Ken Kwapis (“License to Wed,” “He’s Just Not That Into You” and “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”) is inspired by the incredible true story that united the world.
Adam Carlson (John Krasinski from “The Office,” “License to Wed” and “It’s Complicated”) is looking for a big break to escape his 4-year stint as a news reporter for an Anchorage-based television station. He is on assignment in Barrow when he discovers a father, mother and baby trapped in the ice. He affectionately names them “Fred, Wilma and Bamm- Bamm.”
They have a slim chance of survival, because there is a solid block of ice stretching for five miles to the open ocean waterways. They intermittently come up through a small opening for air.
Carlson’s eyewitness report gets picked up by a national network and it attracts the attention of the world. The media circus arrives in force to the brutal climate at the top of the world located three hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle.
The rescue effort is spearheaded by Rachel Kramer (Drew Barrymore from “Grey Gardens,” “50 First Dates” and “He’s Just Not That Into You”), a Greenpeace activist.
Rachel has a romantic history with Adam.
Other key characters playing a role in this engaging drama include an oil tycoon (Ted Danson from “Cheers”), a wildlife biologist (Tim Blake Nelson), an ambitious LA-based Barbie doll newscaster (Kristen Bell from “Couples Retreat” and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”), a National Guard helicopter pilot (Dermot Mulroney from “J. Edgar” and “The Grey”), a White House executive staffer and an Inupiat Eskimo tribal leader.
It is nice to see everyone working together towards a common goal and setting aside their economic and political differences.
You develop an emotional empathy for the plight of these three scared and vulnerable creatures. The conclusion will bring tears to your eyes.
The screenplay by Jack Amiel and Michael Begler is based on the book “Freeing the Whales” by Thomas Rose. The real-life individuals are shown in archival footage over the end credits.
Krasinski and Barrymore are very likable characters with screen charisma. They seem at ease having previously worked with Kwapis. The movie’s other chief strengths are the excellent casting choices, the cinematography and the lifelike animatronic puppets.
The movie has received the Heartland Truly Moving Picture Award. This prestigious seal of approval is bestowed on films that artistically express positive values of life and offer more than mere entertainment.
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"